Wiccan Thoughts
The Spelcastor Archives
(c) 2001 Spelcastor

Here continue the historical Spelcastor Archives back to 1997. These are segments from Spelcastor's Email Broadcasts of CUUPS Coming Events that might be of interest to our later visitors to MoonPathCUUPS.org. 

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12/19/01

'Tis the Season!

This is a time for merry-making and reconnecting with friends and family. We exchange gifts. We honor the Deities on our path. We prepare to celebrate the coming new year.

We honor Father Time. We light candles and kindle new fires. Greenery is hung everywhere. Our homes decorated with wreaths and garlands. Government, schools, and businesses will close. We will take multiple days off. We may even try for some rest and relaxation amidst all the partying and letting loose.

We briefly set aside those class distinctions we observe. We feed the poor. We may even wait upon them. We may even see criminals pardoned and a truce in our wars.

Yes, it's the time of the Roman Festival of Saturnalia!

This Thursday at Study Group, we will share the many traditions of the Winter Solstice. Do bring some to share. Sunday evening, we do our Yule Ritual in a Norse Tradition.

Let me propose a toast to share at the gathering that may include much religious diversity, "In the spirit of the season!"

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12/9/01

We pagans do our bit for world peace.

In the ancient city of Jerusalem, there is a great mosque. It is a sacred space within Islam. Beneath this mosque are perhaps the ruins of a Christian cathedral. The Christians held Jerusalem until the 600s and then recaptured it briefly in the 1200s during the Crusades. Beneath that are the remains of the Second Jewish Temple. The Romans destroyed that Temple in 79 c.e. The "Western Wall" is a remnant. Beneath all this lies a sacred grove. The pagans would meet outdoors in high places and in groves. These places were special to them.

Each new religion builds upon the old. When all each fight over the same sacred space, problems arise. For pagans, it is the Earth that is our temple, and here is one fight we can stay out of.

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12/4/01

This week is Movie Night at Study Group. We have a Public TV Video on the Religion of the Ancient Celts.

Personal relationship with deity is part of the Judaic-Christian-Islamic packages. The ancients saw the gods more like the way we moderns see the weather: it comes, it goes, it rains, it shines. The gods might be bribed with offerings, but this offering might not work.

The structure of the godly hierarchy resembled the mundane politically hierarchy. The old gods were not overly concerned with people. The old gods did not burden people with morality. People were to "live long and prosper" and sometimes they might be weighted good or bad at death, as in the Pharaoh's Egypt, but there were no elaborate moral codes, except perhaps for offerings.

We recent pagans have been raised amidst all these modern values. We do not think like the ancients, even when we try. I see some of this modern thinking as a social cancer. I see a little old time religion as doing us good.

Have a blessed Yule. Many of this season's traditions are very old.

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11/20/01

No Study Group meeting this Thursday. Do your own "Turkey or Tofu Ritual."

Thanksgiving is a harvest festival that is not tied to any particular religion. Contrast it with the spring festivals of Ostara, Easter and Passover.

Thanksgiving was invented following the Civil War (read that War of Northern Aggression) as an instrument of national healing. The Pilgrim Story is quaint but part of the manufacture.

Take this holiday as an opportunity get together with some Muslims, Christians, Atheists, Jews, and possibly even a Fundie, and share some thanks for all that we harvest. And don't forget to bring your Pumpkin Pentacle Pies.

Have a Blessed.
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11/15/01

I just got back from the Florida Pagan Gathering in St. Petersburg. It is easier to go with friends, but signing up for the volunteer jobs will help you connect.

Festivals are one more way we solitaries connect. This festival attracts mostly more experienced members of the Craft. Covens will have their banners on display. You can sit back and observe the pecking orders. You will also notice that Crafty People are just people, too.

Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary was the headliner. Seleena have been visible for years and is quite accustomed to rituals large and small. Ann Moura was there presenting on family traditions. Late night drumming is a classic activity for these festivals.

Workshops tended to be what I would call "more advanced." There was no Wicca 101, but there was an "Intro to Festival." I saw the differing ways folks use chant in ritual. There were published authors wandering about, in case I wanted any encouragement or tips on dealing with that industry.

One connects within the Craft by networking. I never know quite who I am talking with. Powers of observation are cultivated, and what I do is much more noted than what I say.

We solitaries are not necessarily alone. We just don't coven.

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10/29/01

Our Fourth Annual Witches Ball was a big success. Many helpful and cooperative people worked hard to make it all happen. A last minute gift of pine cones let us carry something to the fire other than candles in the wind.

I met many solitaries coming out to their first public ritual.

We have a lost & found for what might be missing. A couple years ago, we were picking lost hats out of trees and athames out of the lawn mower.

So we continue around the Wheel of the Year. Next stop, Yule. In the meantime, Study Group meets every Thursday (Except Turkey Day). We welcome guest presenters, but we have to met you first.

Invitation Only Rituals continue, but again, we have to know you. Religion is a personal thing, and good manners are important.

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10/12/01

The days grow shorter as we approach that time for the Final Harvest upon the Wheel of the Year: the Grand Sabbat of Samhain.

The last of the grain has been cut. The animals that would not survive the winter have been slaughtered. The veil between the worlds is most thin. It the time when souls that linger among us finally pass over. It is the time that the souls long departed are closest to this physical plane once again.

Should we desire to communicate with someone special, this is the most auspicious of moments. This is not just a way of the Celts. Examine the Mayan traditions in Mexico that have interwoven with the Catholic. Recent events can only add to the energy that will be present.

At midnight, following our Witches Ball, we will process past the shrines set up in our Memorial Garden, out to the fire before the High Altar, and there not just a few of us might hear voices and see some ghosts.

Happy Halloween!

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10/3/01

I have watched the news long enough and felt what I have felt. I am now ready to get back to living my life in a normal way.

I am part of more than one path. Once upon a time, the HPs were late. I was there at the appointed time and so was a friend of mine. The HPs had left some of their tools near the altar, but we were not initiated to their degree.

Other people were sitting around, expecting something to happen. Sheepishly, we looked at each other. Now what? There were other things we could do, according to our place along this path. To mess with the HPs stuff would be a no-no.

We looked at each other and said, "Shall we? The power to the people?"

Just then, the HPs arrived. We all settled back into our routine places.

That was the right thing to do. We had all agreed to be on this path. Most of us have no interest in attaining the higher degrees. We respect the other person's space. We do not mess with their stuff.

Somehow, we build a better world.

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9/9/01

Here we are between the harvests of the Fall Season. The first was Lamas, or Loaf Mass, celebrates the first fruits of the fields. The second will be Mabon (Welsh for Son of the Great Mother), or the fall equinox. The third and final harvest will come at Samhain (the Feast of the Dead) at the end of October when the veil between the worlds is especially thin and when many cultures commune with the departed.

As the Wheel of the Year turns, the Sun God is born in the spring and dies in the fall. In another tradition, the Oak King and the Holly King take turns ruling the world and one slays the other at the end of his six months.

It's a rough business being a God. Only the Goddess lives on. She gives birth, nurtures, and the offers transformation. She passes from Maiden, to Mother, to Crone, and then repeats the cycle. All time is connected. It does not stand still but moves in circles. We get back to where began, although it may be in some other form.

So it was before the world became linear. Really, there were many traditions, but in the Old ways, we are all connected.

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8/31/01

Here comes a three-day weekend. If the Goddess does bring rain, some of us will gather on the beach off Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano. Moon Rise is 7:20 PM, Sunset 7:39 PM. Think Ritual and Picnic.

This Thursday, Sophia starts setting up the Labyrinth at the UU Church of Fort Lauderdale at 4:30 PM. Come, help, and learn how it's done.

Ahead are Pagan Pride Day, our Witches Ball, Florida Pagan Gathering, and other Samhain and Yule events. I see may witching opportunities.

More to follow....

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8/19/01

Virginia and Spelcastor presented their UU Sunday Service on "Everyday Magick." It seemed to go over very well.

There is always so much more to share. We skipped the "Deflection Spell." Imagine a bowling ball racing down the ally, crashing into the pins and sending them flying. Such is how it appears to the pins.

But imaging all this from the point of view of the bowling ball: the pins are hurtling towards in, colliding, and then dispersing in all directions.

So it is with a Deflection Spell. The other party moves towards you and suddenly finds themselves in another place. When done correctly, they even like being in the other place. Similar to Newtonian physics and Tai Chi, this spell uses the energy of the other person.

A mistress of such arts might deflect the other person's energy and remain unmoved. More likely, we take in some of that negative energy. We must then ground or otherwise drain it off, or it will remain with us.

A Deflection Spell is difficult to observe head on, but easier to witness when it is directed at someone else. Then, one might smile slightly and think, "I must remember how to do that."

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8/7/01

Our Open Lamas Ritual attracted 80+ people. A few years ago, it attracted six. Sophia was High Priestess and added some extra touches to last year's ritual to make it even more special. The High Priest found himself with last year's Ritual, which caused a few mid-ritual course corrections.

This Thursday's topic in Study Group will be "Initiations and Degrees." Some of our folks have done Self-Dedications. We have celebrated some of our people beginning their "year and a day" of study and practice. We have celebrated other people when they have concluded that.

Since CUUPS collects people of many traditions, we have no one path to teach. We do not confer credentials, but we do have some general expectations. It does help if everyone else in the room does not break out into laughter when you say you want to celebrate your year and a day.

Degrees are more of a coven thing and, in part, have to do with leadership. The idea of being a Third Degree Solitary is rather quaint. Somewhere in this discussion we might even get around to the question of, "Just what is a Witch, anyway?"

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7/20/01

Some among us knew Lady Demeter, who recently passed to the Summerland. Lady D was a mentor and teacher to many. Lady Bridget was one of her students.

She visited our CUUPS chapter in the early 90s before I connected. Legend has it that she once led an outdoor ritual with lots of candles. None blew out, but after the Circle was opened, the wind did pick up ...

I met Lady D in '96 when I was exploring Metaphysical Shops. She was just closing hers in that dying mall at Broward and 441. When I walked in, I noticed it was all Wiccan: no Angels, Indian or Buddhist stuff.

I was early in my own studies. I was curious what went on around these shops. The day was slow, and Lady Dem was delighted to chat. The season of Imbolc was approaching and our conversation moved to when might be a good time to celebrate Imbolc.

As we talked, I felt I was in the presence of "Yoda Witch." I am a Star Wars fan and I was hearing, "So it's a Witch you want to be, you think?" There are so many ways to time a Sabbat: tradition and solar position in the Zodiac. There is latitude (the ways in Spain are different from those in Ireland). Ancient Sabbats were three day affairs, beginning at dark on the first day. I suspect Lady D was not looking for a correct answer. She was curious as to the depth of my studies.

And then she would digress and fuss with things in her shop. I though of Yoda, rummaging about his cottage. And here I was, Young Luke, providing amusement for the Master. There is so much one can see with 40 years of experience.

October 27 at the Fort Lauderdale Witches Ball at 10:15 PM before the Main Ritual, some of us will pause around the fire. The Walls between the Worlds are quite thin at that time and, as you may know, some spirits linger until this time to pass over.

So when is the proper moment to celebrate Imbolc? The closest Saturday when everyone can get together, of course.

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7/1/01

This Thursday morning we have both a lunar eclipse and a full moon. (Funny how they both happen around the same time.)

Any disruptions in the local magick will have hopefully passed by 7:30 PM when we plan and do our own Full Moon Ritual. I will outline the 13 steps to ritual and then outline some and ignore others. Creating Sacred Space, Calling Quarters, Invoking the Goddess and God, Magickal Workings are all a must. We do hope you take your Ritual Baths beforehand.

Goddess permitting, we will have clear skies, a fire, drumming, and no cops until we are done.

Here is a time for empowerment and celebration. Bless those new ritual tools. Draw in strength for new ventures. Revel in your latest triumphs. Plus Spelcastor and others have birthdays.

Look forward to Lady Bridget's next series of classes on Spelcrafting, starting September 11th.

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6/12/01

I was thinking about the magick of gold.

Gold is a shiny yellow metal that appeals to humans in all cultures past and present. "Say, what you got there? Where can I get some? Have you got any more?"

Gold is heavier than lead. It melts at relatively low temperature. It does not corrode. It is chemically inactive, soft and easy to mold.

Gold comes from volcanoes. Since it is heavy and turns solid last after the other minerals turn to rock. It will collect as "veins." As rocks erode, gold is washed into rivers, right where humans will find it.

We can't eat gold. Gold does not nourish crops. Until the emergence of the electronics industry, it had few uses other than looking pretty. Gold can be shaped into jewelry or tooth fillings. In order to make it hard enough for goblets and candle sticks, it must first be diluted with other metals.

And then there are the things that humans will do for gold. It's not always pretty, but it is magick.

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5/21/01

I talked with Fritz & Wren of the Witches Voice at the last Florida Pagan Gathering.

They do the very successful witchvox.com website. They related that they conclude that 80% of the witches/pagans they see online are uncovened. Perhaps I should stop apologizing for being a solitary.

Being solitary does not mean we are alone. We may attend festivals, connect through local metaphysical shops, meet friends online, or even know local people. There are Study Groups, as well as covens, and some of these do Outer Court events.

There is an intimacy in doing ritual with people you know well, "In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust." It's great when it works. Covens have politics too. We solitaries really do have friends.

Is the education better? Does coven training offer more balance and depth? I don't know. That's a secret. Is there a world of knowledge and experience open to everyone? Yes, if you are open to it.

Some people have busy schedules. Some people do business travel. The rule of an obligatory bi-weekly meeting, plus attendance at all sabbats, esbats, and scheduled study may be too much for some life styles. And some people don't like asking permission to do things. Perhaps there is at least one petty tyrant within the Craft?

So, are you a Good Witch or a Bad Witch? Are you a Better Witch than that Pointy Hat down the street? That is what is so good about the secrecy within the Craft: the real magick is not open to comparison.

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5/9/01

Pagan festivals give us an opportunity to do things we can't do locally. We get to let our hair down, and everything else.

My mind drifted back to the plains of Germany BCE The tents beyond the campfire looked like something the ancient Celts might use. The drums beat on. the wind blew smoke and cinders around the fire. It was intoxicating.

Day was done. Members of our "tribe" danced around the circle. Many shapes and sizes, ages and styles, circled as the rhythm pounded the air. I would join in, take time to rest, muse, and then join in again.

One thought kept running through my mind, "Life is Good!" I was living a Pagan Budweiser commercial.

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4/23/01

Tis the Season of Beltaine and we of Moonpath CUUPS shall do our celebration of this ancient fire festival next Saturday from noon till dark.

Think of it as a pagan picnic, with a Walgreens down the street. We will have a food vendor who will make cold sandwiches look less than yummy.

We plan for a Story Teller, flower hat making, the traditional dropping of the scarf and chase. We plan to crown a Queen and king of the May. We shall hail the advent of summer and dance the May Pole. We will celebrate an open Beltaine Ritual.

All for no cost of admission, although our vendors will tempt your purse.

This Thursday at Study Group, we will swap traditions and stories of Beltaine (The Good Fire) and plan some of the details for Saturday.

Come enjoy the fun with your fellow pagans. Noon til dark by Pagan time our events will unfold. Come too late and miss something special.

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4/10/01

It was years ago at the Academy that I met the Mage Liechtenstein.

He was a Doctor of Natural Philosophy, more specifically, the Physicks.

He would describe for us the swirls of magnetism and the paths of lightening. He would entice apprentices to the board and have them draw that which he had been discussing. Protons, electrons, energy all intertwined. The chalk dust would fly.

And then he would shriek at the terrified apprentice, "When color is this!?"

It was a trick question. To fully deal with these forces, one must be able to visualize them. The color is of your own choosing, and so it is with other forms of Magick.

Beltaine is coming! It's a season of play, celebration and lust.

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4/3/01

Spelcastor was thinking about Druids and Witches.

The Druids were the educated class among the Celts for perhaps 1,000 years. The ranges from Spain to Russia. They were the lawyers, doctors, clergy and such. Initiation training took 19 years of so. Think of them all as PhDs. The rulers and warriors would not be part of the Druid class.

Compare this to the medieval Christian church. It controlled knowledge (that which it did not destroy) and was the best educated class. Our university system was spun off from the church.

The Romans dealt with the Druids by slaughtering them. Thus the Roman custom of patriarchy was extended into Northern Europe. Think about how the Reformation busted up the church. The Protestant denomination would be analogous to the Witches: smaller groups carrying on traditions in their own interpretation.

But are the Druids gone? Take a look at the judges in the High Court of the Netherlands and in Wales. Quaint costumes those folks wear.

I bet I will hear some other opinions on this topic.

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3/17/01

But first, a Thought for this Day:

Christian influence arrived in Ireland by 100 AD or so. The popular Saints appeared between 400 and 800 AD. Some of the Saints (see Bridget) resemble Celtic deities.

The conversion took place slowly and without an army. There was no mass slaughter of Druid leadership. Snakes were a well known Goddess symbol and Patrick did butt heads with the Old Religion.

The symbolism of one time may not be recognized in a later time. The Tree of Life is yet another Goddess symbol. As the story goes, Adam sinned by letting Eve lead him back to the Old Ways in the Middle East.

Today, Celtic Christianity functions differently than Roman Christianity. One can get rather Pagan and still remain under that "Christian Umbrella" as a "Devotee of Saint Bridget."

We are everywhere.

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2/11/01

I think about protective incantations. I think of how we cast our sacred circle and call upon the forces of the universe to guard us as we perform our sacred rites.

Each gathering has its local situation. At the UU Church where we meet, there are neighbors that encircle us. They leave messages on the church answering machine complaining that our drumming does not sound like Christian worship.

I think of Ulysses of the Greek saga. On his heroic quest of a journey, Ulysses knew he would sail past the island of the Sirens, those sultry maidens who would lure a sailor to turn upon the deadly rocky coast. Ulysses stuffed cotton into the ears of his sailors and then had himself tied to the mast of his ship, so that he might experience the Siren's call and not succumb to their lure.

Midway, between our sacred meeting place and the nearest outpost of the Broward County Sheriff's Office (BSO) is a Dunkin' Donuts.

And so as we cast our Circle late at night and our drummers begin, we invoke the Sirens of Dunkin. Our neighbors roll over in their beds, and it is only a matter of time before they will reach for their phones and complain to BSO.

We ask the Sirens of Dunkin to send forth their sweet aromas of double-cream crullers. We ask her to divert the oncoming patrol car into their parking lot and thus be delayed long enough for us to complete our Ritual. We figure we have about 40 minutes.

OK, so maybe it helps that our "sweet young things" greet the patrol car say how safe they feel being protected. And our HPS and HP have the good sense to remove horns, pentacles, and facial paint before presenting themselves as the persons in charge.

Humor is good. We are part of a greater community.

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1/31/01

I was reading a Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente and came across some Goddess names with which I was not familiar: Arionhod, Etoine, Nisene, and Melusine. I prefer to know who or what I am calling up when I am doing my castings.

I searched the Internet and found a story from the Middle Ages that took place in the Castle of Lusignn, in the French region of Poitou.

The lord of the castle was lonely and went in search of a bride. He came home with Melusine, his mysterious and fiery bride. She came with him on the one condition that he would never see her bathing. She was lovely and they lived together for years. Melusine bore him four children, each with flashing eyes and larger than usual teeth.

Of course as these stories go, the lord was tempted and had to see Melusine bathing. At that moment she revealed herself to be a dragon and flew off taking with her two of the children.

In the Christianized version of this story, Melusine would rarely attend Mass and always left before the presentation of the chalice. When the lord becomes curious and orders his knights to force her to stay, she turns into a dragon and flees, again with two of the children.

I found this on a website full of French words and French stories. Yes, many interesting things happened on the Continent in the old days. It is said that a dragon is still occasionally sighted around Lusignn Castle. Further, it is told that Melusine's blood line extends through her two other children to all the present royalty of Europe.

It is perhaps wise to know who or what you are conjuring.

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This Sunday at the UU Church of Fort Lauderdale, our Open Ritual is for Imbolc, the Candle Festival of the Maiden Goddess. We will also celebrate the coming of age of a young woman. Wear white and bring a token gift for her, plus the usual feast.

This Thursday in Study Group, we make wands.

Anam Cara Coven (Soul Friend) - Celtic friendship coven. Considering new members. If you are a DOUBLE EARTH SIGN (MOON & SUN) and you are seeking a coven that explores the richness of long and lasting friendships then contact Lady Gossamer (Edie Crews) at sacredpath@mindspring.com for more information.

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1/17/01

Last Thursday at Study Group, we watched the 1942 movie classic I Married A Witch. Stars were Fredric March and Veronica Lake.

It's a comedy. The story goes that one of Fredric's Pilgrim ancestors burned one of Veronica's ancestors at the stake. She placed a curse upon him that each of his male descendants would be unlucky in love until one of them married a witch.

The film is entertaining and a pinch sexist, but what do you expect from the 40's? It's not all that politically incorrect. What with us being public for the last 50 or 100 years, we can find examples of our evolving culture in the open media.

This Thursday, we take a look at Norse Traditions. You won't need your wand or broom. A hammer would be more appropriate.

This Saturday is Pagan Pathways Payback Work Day at the UU Church of Fort Lauderdale. If any of you are up between 7:30-10:30 am, or on your way home, stop by, meet the muggles who keep these grounds nice for us, and lend a hand.

Our next Open Ritual will be Imbolc, Sunday, February 4th at 7 PM.

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1/1/01

Here we are in the new Millennium with very little excitement. It would seem that the turning of zeros a year ago was more interesting. Perhaps those numerology people are not wrong?

In spite of my Wicca New Year being at Samhain, this one still grabs me. I am forced to acknowledge the passage of time.

I was at the Unitarian Winter Institute south of Miami teaching "Wicca and Beyond" with Shinning Spirit. This was the fourth year we have done this together, and I was struck that we really are collecting a bundle of material. We really are learning, too. That is the secret of teaching: the teacher learns more than the students.

For Christmas, I got myself The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft. The index is impressive, and so left brained. The authors touch upon many, many topics, and their book received a technical review by a Gardnerian of high degree. (Those folks do take their training quite seriously.) This book brings credibility to a new market and opens the Craft to a whole new type of "How To" people. Hopefully, they will not choose a pipe wrench for their athame.

We begin another calendar year of our Study Group, our "Coven of Solitaries." Because we are open and open-ended, we experience different needs in structure and control than covens. People show up when they choose, and someone else is in their seat when they do not. Those who prepare and present some research on our announced topic learn more than those who come to be entertained.

Speaking of learning, Lady Bridget is starting up a new series of classes at Crystal Fantasy.

Have a blessed, if mundane, New Year

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12/6/00

This Sunday's 7:00 PM Yule Ritual at the UU Church will be in the Druid Tradition. Thus, leave your athame's home, but staffs and wands are OK. Also, wear all black, ritual garb or otherwise.

You heard from me it was bound to happen. Now, available at your local book stores is "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft" by Denise Zimmermann, Katherine Gleason.

11 of the 11 online reviews were good. Ms Gleason was written four previous books about art, native American or children's focus.

Ms. Zimmermann has no other books to her credit. It would appear that a Witchie Lady teamed with a Writer Lady and now we have the result. Perhaps the Idiots People solicited them or perhaps they wrote a book proposal.

At $15.95, it is more expensive than Scott Cunningham's "The Truth About Witchcraft" for $4.99. It's is still a swell Yule gift for concerned relatives or your childhood family priest.

The For Dummies people do not have a Wicca book yet, so get those proposals into the mail.

There is also Witchcraft: Exploring the World of Wicca by Craig S. Hawkins. I found this one in the "What's Wrong With Everyone Else" section of a Christian Bookstore. The first four chapters are pretty good, but this author is a Fundie Christian. He soon gets around to distortion and slander. Pagans have taken the opportunity to write online rebuttal reviews of this one on Amazon.

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11/29/00

I was looking at what someone called the 6th and 7th Books of Moses.

It appears that when Christianity got formalized, they needed a mythos, or collection of stories that teach who they are. They grabbed the Jewish "Old Testament." It was very "male" and a clear break from the mythologies of Rome and Greece,

The first five books in the Christian Bible are called the Books of Moses. To some, Moses was a historical figure who lead his people out of bondage. To others, he was a great magician who could part seas, drown armies, inflict plagues, raise awesome columns of smoke or fire, and turn is staff into a snake. Neat, Uh?

So along side the evolution of Christianity grew this male mysticism. It drew from the Jewish Kabala. The Sixth and Seventh Books are annotations of amulets of power and unknown Hebrew words to be recited. Male spirits, that resent showing up, are to be invoked. Power from outside oneself is beckoned and channeled by a skilled performance and hierarchical connection. There is a lot of commanding, submitted, obeying, and vanquishing.

Such is the patriarchal path. There was nothing female anywhere in the script.

I find this theme weaving through traditions up into this century. I see remnants of this in Gerald Gardner's book, "High Magic's Aid." The hero needs to acquire special tools and conjure dark forces, while the heroine looks on.

So from 400 to 1900, this is how the boys played. the ladies were doing other things.

This is a good time to be alive.

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11/21/00

Here comes Thanksgiving, so what kinds of thoughts is Spelcastor pondering?

Why would a white woman want to marry an Indian?

Not a politically correct question today, but how about in 1694, in Virginia or Pennsylvania? This was a time before washing machines and BIC lighters. Folks lived closer to the Earth. We were a nation of immigrants. German was as common as English. Diversity was a common experience.

The Native Americans had not been degraded yet, and theirs was a matrifocal culture. Here was a respite in which to hide out from the stern patriarchy of our Christian Forefathers. It is just a thought, as I much on turkey.

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10/31/00

CORRECTION: Fall Into Rhythm at Boyd Hill, St. Pete. is ON as planned Set aside November 16-19 and visit fallintorhythm.bizland.com. Sorry for the confusion.

The Third Annual South Florida Witches Ball was a big success. Attendance was around 260. There was Deejay music and dancing, vendors, a psychic reader, and outside a lit labyrinth, a Memorial Space, food vendor, two bonfires, networking and ongoing ceremonies. A very special rite was the Empowerment of the Warrior Woman for one of our own, headed into some difficult times.

At midnight, we held our solemn Samhain Ritual. We started inside with a story of the season and then followed spirit dancers outside through the Memorial Space and into the Grand Circle. With candles and drumming and remembrances tossed into the fire, we completed the final part of our ceremony in 38 minutes.

We know that the drumming irritates our neighbors and it takes 40 minutes for them to get annoyed, call the police, and for the police to show up. Sure enough, as the Ritual ended, the Broward Sheriff's folks were out front. They are getting to know us. I took off my horns and pentacle before greeting them, and they apologized for having to respond to a complaint. I promised that we would quiet down, right on schedule.

The teamwork and cooperation were inspirational. I invite feedback on all that went on. The Ball pays for the Ritual, buys us sound equipment and supplies, and allows us to do payback to the UU Church. They do not charge us rent. There have been suggestions to schedule the Ritual early, but then, would the Ball attract as many people? I see a combination of economics and the Magick of Midnight.

Besides, the police need a laugh.

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10/28/00

Here comes the Third Annual South Florida Witches Ball. For directions, see the map at http://uucfl.org/cuups/finduu.htm. We are three blocks west of I-95. Exit at Oakland Park Blvd, go west to 21 Ave and right (North) three blocks and look for the UU Church at 3970 NW 21 Ave. on your right.

The doors open at 7:30 PM. The Deejay starts by 8 PM. There will be munchies, ice, and one food vendor, but bring your own everything. We will have a map to nearby beverage stores available. Our local Walgreen's liquor closed.

All this for $10 at the door. Kids get in free.

There will be a costume contests and a door prize. At 11:45 PM, the music stops and we begin with our Samhain Ritual. We will start in the church building and process through the Memorial Garden on to the field and fire out back.

At this time of the year, the walls to the next world are especially thin. Bring a decorated bottle candle to place in the Memorial Garden, should you choose to be in contact with someone special. Find the best candles at your local Metaphysical Store. Paste on photos, a name, symbols, or whatever fits your tradition.

Folks who would rather mingle than dance to loud music may gather on the patio. The Labyrinth will be lit and there may be side rituals going on about the grounds at about 9 PM and 10 PM. (Ask around to find them.) At 9 there is an attunment (centering meditation) ceremony. At 10 there is am empowerment ceremony for a Lady who is one of us.

Samhain is our High Holy Day and the beginning of the new year on the Celtic calendar.

Enjoy, be safe, and cooperate with the folks making this event possible.

Happy New Year!!!

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10/25/00

Spelcastor is in mourning. The Xena series is being canceled. So far I have been unable to find any confirmation that Lucie Lawless (Xena) plans to enter the Unitarian ministry.

Here comes the Third Annual South Florida Witches Ball. The doors open at 7:30 PM. The Deejay starts by 8 PM. There will be munchies, ice, and one food vendor, but bring your own everything. There is a Walgreen's down the street from us.

All this for $10 at the door. Kids get in free.

There will be a costume contest and a door prize. At 11:45 PM, the music stops and we begin with our Samhain Ritual. We will start in the church building and process through the Memorial Garden to the field and fire out back.

At this time of the year, the walls to the next world are especially thin. Bring a decorated bottle candle to place in the Garden, should you choose to be in contact with someone special. Find candles in the Catholic/Santeria section of Publix. Paste on photos, a name, symbols, or whatever fits your tradition.

Folks who would rather mingle than dance to loud music will gather on the patio. The Labyrinth will be lit and there may be side rituals going on around on the grounds. (You have to know someone.)

Samhain is our High Holy Day and the beginning of the new year on the Celtic calendar.

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10/17/00

Last Thursday we did a Full Moon ritual on the back patio of the UU Church. It was raining. As we invoked the Goddess, the downpour increased. Such an alignment of energy!

We were working on choreography: what to do between calling the quarters and hearing from the Goddess. Our goal is maintaining continuity.

We usually work with a female and male team. At this point, the Priestess raises her arms into Goddess position and the Priest kneels in front of her. He invites the Goddess to descends into the Priestess and be present through her during the ritual. (Yes, this is called "Drawing Down the Moon.") Then he steps aside and the Goddess blesses the group.

For the male counterpart, the Goddess extends her left arm and invites her consort, the God, to join her. (The Goddess never kneels.) The Priest steps beside her and speaks for the God.

At the dismissal, the Goddess extends her left arm, thanks the God for his presence and sends him on his way. The Priest then circles around, kneels, thanks the Goddess for her presence, and she steps to the side, coming back around as the Priestess.

Sounds complicated? That is what rehearsals are for. Done right, the movement flows, and all present feels more connected.

Speaking of connection, at our Witches Ball, 10/28, we plan a sacred space outside in the Memorial Garden for bottle candles. Pick up one at Public and paste onto it the name or a photo of someone you want to remember. We will all walk past them through the garden on our way to our Midnight Circle.

Other happenings: A covening opportunity. Athos@ytt.org  is looking to start classes on Sundays in November.

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10/3/00

To be a witch means to both practice and teach the Old Religion. By tradition, we are not supposed to charge for teaching. However, witching is IN, and there is a lot of interest out there.

That is why the local Garderians ask inquirers to read three books before investing time in them. If they have already read the specified books, others are suggested. This technique restores some balance, and there is always something good to learn from books.

One of my goals is to not waste time providing light entertainment for the uncommitted. Life is short.

In the mundane world, when people ask me to do things for them. I ask them to do things for me. It might be as simple as to hand me a pencil If their issue is really one of control, they simply will not give me the pencil.

We are not obligated to teach any particular person anything. Yet teaching is the best way for the teacher to learn.

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9/15/00

We are moving on from our closure with Andrea. Thanks for the emailed concerns. We did a ceremony in Study Group and will do something again at Samhain. This got me thinking about the roles we follow.

When we present ourselves (or are presented by our HPS) to the quarters after our year and a day of study and practice, we are announced as Witch, Priest, and Hidden Child of the Goddess.

To be a witch means that we both practice and teach our form of the Old Religion. That we teach, keeps us fresh and learning and carries our past into the future.

A priestly function is to preside at a passage, This happens in the mundane world, like when your boss says you are hired or fired, your university says you now hold a degree or a notary marries you. Within the Craft, we find ourselves called upon to acknowledge a passage as well as preside at rituals.

Hidden Child of the Goddess? As much of ourselves as we choose to share, some part will remain hidden. Child of the Goddess? Yes, that gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.

The is a Full Moon Ritual at the UU Hollywood Fellowship Tonight. Next week we celebrate Pagan Pride Day, here, and across the country.

Blessed be.

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9/8/00

This Sunday at the UU Church of Fort Lauderdale at 3 PM we will hold a Memorial Service service for one of our own, Andrea.

Andrea chose to move on to the Summerland early, she suicided. Her story is one of a very bright woman with a history of depression. She chose to marry a Fundamentalist and bear two fine children. She was a member of our Study Group. She was a very intentional person and there was nothing we could do. Now we rally to clean up the loose ends of her life.

The Memorial will be in the Unitarian Tradition, as she was also a recent member of our Church. There will be an extensive time for personal sharing, and this will turn in the direction of the people who are present. We do not expect the ex or the children, of whom he has custody, to be there.

You in are greater community are invited to attend, or send well wishes. People choose to live the lives they live and seek out the people they find. They have future lives in which to learn the lessons that have eluded them so far along their path.

On a brighter note, the Circle of Divine Light has an opening in their Coven in Hollywood, FL, for one more student. For more info contact Oden at b110960c@bc.seflin.org.

We have two more weeks until Pagan Pride Day.

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9/3/00

I have heard of an opening in a coven. Visit http://uucfl.org/cuups/dmoon.htm Sorry, no boys allowed.

I was thinking about magick. People new to the Craft ask me about a love spell or a money spell. It is either that, or they have been watching too much Channel 39 television and want to learn how to throw lightening bolts around our parking lot.

Tacky! Our mundane culture encourages us to direct our energy against others in one-on-one confrontations.

Think of other expressions of magick. Think of the ability to walk through walls.

Walls just do their wall thing, whether they are brick, a mountain, or a social organization. They are quite solid, indifferent, and not going anywhere.

But take the time to learn the ways of a wall, how it came to be and what it is about. (I find the social walls much more interesting.) Make a few changes within yourself and you can walk right through it. If you have an adversary in pursuit, you leave them to do the one-on-one thing with the wall. Lot's of luck, Charlie.

There are many forms of magick in this world.

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8/22/00

The Sunday Sermon on the Craft went well. To see my speaking notes, visit http://uucfl.org/cuups/sermon.htm.

I received some comments on Pagans buying books from Amazon and not supporting local shops.

Amazon is convenient and makes it easy for me to find things. I impulse buy. The cost savings is not that important to me.

Local shops are a traditional place for us Pagans to connect. The closest analogy I see is a Jewish Community Center.

Shops stay alive by selling us stuff, and traffic through the store makes the biggest difference. Friendly, knowledgeable people are a big plus. Events help. Workshops, musicians, readers, people who have published something or feel a need to teach.

Ads draw attention, something in the New Age Gazettes. Being visible without spending lots of money is the idea.

I see the Internet working as an alternative to expensive mailings. A page that tells who you are, where you are, coming events, and area resources will keep people coming back. So will an email newsletter. Use our CUUPS website and newsletter as a model.

Since we are a religion, one clever idea I have seen is starting a 501(c)(3) Tax-exempt corporation along side the business corporation. That way, customers can give to make religious things happen and again traffic increases.

Support your local gun fighter.

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8/7/00

I was talking with some Ladies of High Degree about differing paths within the Craft. I confided that I have met Jewwitches, ladies with a fondness for Lilith who honor Jewish traditions and follow the Old Ways, but what about Christowitches? The Ladies suggested that I get out more often.

Although we Pagans may revere many aspects of divinity, we tend not to mix pantheons because it produces such confusing energy. We invoke Celtic, Roman, Streghen, or Egyptian deities in different Rituals.

What about those who have been brought up within a Christian tradition but without painfully negative experience? This Christian path for them might remain familiar, comfortable, and socially useful. It is just so male focused that it is incomplete for them.

Through the Middle Ages, the habit of "a Mass in the Morning and the Moon at Night" was practiced. For some, this pattern has continued. The two pantheons are not mixed, and together they make up a complete expression.

The right side of a Catholic altar is known as the "Mary Side." Pagans may know it is the "Goddess Side." (The Goddess is on the right because she is.)

Perhaps the next person you see lighting a candle at the Mary Side of a Christian altar is honoring the other half of her religion.

There are many more paths out there than we may realize.

Some see the legendary Jesus an far more pagan than his noisy modern-day followers. These same people might claim this Jesus deity as part of their personal pantheon while rejecting the so-called Christians.

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7/21/00

Speaking of Gatherings, we are gearing up for Pagan Pride Day September 23rd. Visit us or check out a similar event near you on that weekend.

One of my vices is that I plan ahead. I am thinking of March 17th. In 2001, this date falls on a Saturday. Yes, it's Saint Patrick's Day: a time of partying and celebration. Patrick is famous for having driven the snakes out of Ireland.

But we pagans know that snakes are an ancient goddess symbol. The locals of 700 AD were quite aware of this symbolism.

How about we celebrate March 17th as "Save the Snakes Day"? The press ought to love that contrast. We could host local gatherings and share stories of the olden times. We could speak of Bridget before she was a saint. We could talk of wells and springs, and sacred flames. We could point to sacred groves that now have churches in them.

We ought to be able to get a lot of mileage out of this one.

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7/14/00

I have heard from our friend Lisa who have moved north: She has started to meet more and more of the pagan community both in the Orlando area and Melbourne.

She tells me, "Nice communities in both places is my impression so far. Anyway, I am involved with the Church of Rowan Grove, http://www.rowangrove.org/, which is kind of like a CUUPS Chapter as far as the diverse and eclectic backgrounds of the members go, but without the attachment of the Unitarian Church They are a chartered church on their own.

"They will be sponsoring a gathering sometime next year, possibly February, shortly after Imbolc. They were asking me if I thought we could interest people in coming up. So, let's take an informal type poll...let me know if you or any others you know have any ideas for workshops, would be interested in vending or doing workshops with catchy titles, etc...

"Any and all feedback appreciated. Email Lisa at lamyers@mindspring.com.

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7/7/00

Are getting up at midnight to pick up your personal copy of the fourth Harry Potter book, "The Goblet of Fire?" Perhaps UPS will deliver your copy by 10 AM Saturday?

This is such a phenomena. Even the muggles know about it.

Notice that the Harry series does not include technology. Well, there is the Nimbus 2001 Flying Broom, is so practical.

Not only are gets getting interesting in books, but all this excitement raises "Witch Awareness." Muggles will be asking what all this is about and sales of black nail polish will soar.

Many will seek shortcuts. A Year and a Day of Study does not fit within our immediate gratification culture.

For example, want to hex someone with a voodoo curse? No longer to you have to ask around to make a connection and then waste more time learning about what you might be doing. Study of the ethics involved can reach into the rest of your life.

Now you can go online to http://pinstruck.com/ There you can select the curse of your choice in the comfort of your own living room.

Actually, pinstruck is a publicity stunt by some budding webdesigners, but I wonder who is visiting.

Lammas is coming!!

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6/26/00

I look ahead to our next Open Rituals.

7/30 we shall celebrate Lammas, the First Harvest. The Egyptian Lion Goddess Sehkmet will be the focus of sophialinus@hotmail.com who is planning this event.

9/23 is National Pagan Pride Day. We will make an afternoon picnic of this with amusements, vendors and music by Dionysos (www.dionysos.cc) and conclude with a 5 PM Ritual.

For this special day, we might look to the varying traditions at each of the Quarters. In invoking the Goddess, we might build something from the Seven Goddess Chant: "Isis, Astarte, Diana - Hecate, Demeter, Kali - Innana." For the Male God? Someone with horns, of course!

The season is Mabon and the second harvest. If Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente, Alister Crowley and Dion Fortune were the first generation of out-of-the-broom-closet witches, then we are the second. Our public acts are the second harvest of this movement to restore the Old Religion. We ought to be able to do something with that theme.

This is a time to revere all the pantheons. We are a creative lot and will come up with something.

And then there is all that time between these two events. can we go seven weeks without a Ritual?

There is much magic afoot. Enjoy!

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6/12/00

I have been quiet for a while. What's new?

The Magical Forest is moving from Pembroke Pines to Sunrise, but they are still on University Drive. They do a nice Wicca 101, but they may skip July.

This Saturday's Pagan Picnic may be rescheduled for a week later. I have not heard yet.

Anyway, it will be a busy weekend. Full Moon Ritual at the Hollywood Fellowship. Sunday Open Ritual at the UU Church of Fort Lauderdale. Yours truly, Spelcastor will be preaching on "Ethics and the Craft" at the Hollywood Fellowship

The season is Litha, of Mid-Summers, or Summer Solstice. It is a time of faeries and silliness. Those following the traditions of the far North, celebrate the thawing of the ice in the harbor. At last the ships could head South for a little pillage and burning.

Some greet the sun at dawn on the longest day of the year. Some see the transition between the Oak and Holly Gods.

There is much magic afoot. Enjoy!

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5/24/00

In my last broadcast, I mentioned Quarter Calls. I received back several thoughtful descriptions of personal traditions. Very nice!

This Thursday's topic in our Study Group will be "Thirteen Moons."

We will take a look at Lunar Calendars. I was thinking about Celtic and native American. I have already heard offers of input on Greek, Egyptian and Jewish Lunar Calendars. This should be a really fun evening.

Sometimes we come up with a topic that really touches people. No one book could bring us all this information and sharing.

We have a good time. The Freethinkers AA Group down the hall complains about our noise and cackling. We are Witches. We are supposed to cackle.

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5/18/00

I was thinking about calling in the Elements at the Quarters.

South is Fire and North is Earth. Easy enough so far, West is Water and East is Air. That might be OK for a witch is Paris, France, San Francisco, or Tampa, Florida. But Spelcastor is a Fort Lauderdale witch.

Yes, I have friends who place the elements at different quarters. I get very confused when I visit them, but that is good for me. I become too rigid in my own ways if I do not venture outside. Tampa witches call to Water to the West.

But if the tradition does not match the situation, why not just make up a new tradition. In Fort Lauderdale, the rain storms come from the West so West is the logical place for Water. Hurricanes come from the East, so that is the logical place for Air.

Laugh will you? After this email bounces around for two weeks, we shall have an established tradition.

And so me move towards Solstice, the Time for Faeries and perhaps a midsummer night's dream. Bright Blessings!

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5/10/00

What a lovely Beltaine I enjoyed. First at the UU Church of Fort Lauderdale and then in St. Pete at the Florida Pagan Gathering.

There is the excitement, and behind the scenes chaos, of producing a big ritual in Fort Lauderdale.

A part I enjoy most is the excitement in faces of others as they participate or dance around the May Pole. I feel quite priestly.

At FPG I was in workshops by Donald Michael Kraig. He explained how in writing in our Books of Shadows, we will write down what we want to remember and leave out what we know we will not forget. It saves paper, and both the experienced and the new do this.

That is a risk in looking into someone else's book.

There is a peaceful little Ritual I do, but 2/3 the way through, this troll keeps showing up. (There must be something messed up in one of the invocations.) Anyway, I know him well and quickly send him packing. Yet, I have yet to make a note in my book about this nuisance.

If someone borrowed my book and tried my really peaceful, centering ritual, I wonder if they would know what to do about the troll?

It's naughty to borrow without asking.

Happy Beltaine!

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4/28/00

Tomorrow our Beltaine Celebration Saturday, April 29th, Noon till Dusk.

We are looking for more Faeries, young and old. It's getting to be that time ofd year.

We are planning a seasonal enactment for 2 PM and a Ritual with hand fastings and May Pole at 4 PM. The men will raise the May Pole, with encouragement from the Ladies. Perhaps we shall have in our midst, all in blue and quite a flutter, carrying a basket of purple gumdrops, the Viagra Faerie.

We are looking for jugglers, story tellers, more drums, clowns, and jesters. I expect a Queen of the May, horses, vendors and Revelers. The Goddess promises good weather.

Other happenings. Has anyone encountered Lady Ananova at http://www.ananova.com/? She is an animated online newscaster. To view her, it takes a later model pc with sound.

Much expensive research revealed that both men and women are more comfortable receiving their information from a woman. Some things haven't changed since other Ladies made their forecasts as the Oracle at Delphi in ancient Greece.

Enjoy a Blessed Beltaine! Enjoy!

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3/8/00

RenFair has come and gone, but if you want more visit Vizcaya in Miami in two weeks. This week, we have Margot Adler at the Boca UU Fellowship Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

Also Elaine Silver, Faerie Goddess will be at New Age Books this Saturday 2-4PM and the Science of the Mind Coffee House Saturday Evening. Elaine's tape is the one from which we made a Ritual. Visit http://uucfl.org/cuups/esilver.htm for that.

This is the season for Fairies. Rent a copy of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream at Blockbusters. The language is, well, Elizabethan, but this play is a respected source for faerie legend. Green is returning to the earth and it's time to be a little silly.

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3/4/00

Do you want to be invited to a lot of Rituals?

It's like basketball. A guy I new, 4.0 Jones, wanted to be on the school basketball team. Trouble was, Jones was short and stocky.

But Jones had an idea: way out in the center of the court near the sides, there is a place where two of the painted lines cross. Jones decided to practice throwing baskets from that point until he could not miss.

He practiced days and days, months, and he got really good. Move him one foot off his mark, and he could hit nothing. But leaving him there, and he was unbeatable.

And so Jones got to play. The opposing teams could not ignore him. If they did not position a man to block Jones, he kept scoring. With one man out of play, the opposing teams could not use their regular tactics.

Jones was on the team because he found one thing he could do well. Think about learning chants to make yourself popular at Rituals. Collect tapes, memorize words, and become sensitive to when energy is rising or falling.

Not everyone remembers, "Isis Astarte, Diana - Hecate, Demeter, Kali - Innnan." You can be welcome and fill in those dead spots when the cakes and ale are slow in getting around the Circle.

Not everyone has earned third degrees in multiple traditions, or been a regular lunch date of Gerald Gardner in the 50's. One rare skill can serve you well. Think about it.

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2/8/00

This weekend begins the first of five weeks of the Renaissance Fair in Deerfield Beach, FL. It's a step back in time and fantasy.

This Saturday, 7 PM we do an Open Ritual at the UU Church of Fort Lauderdale. The Season is Imbolc and we celebrate the Maiden Goddess Bridget with many candles and a seasonal reenactment.

Bridget is the other Patron Saint of Ireland and her eternal flame has been rekindled in Kildare. One of her many symbols is the serpent, and we know what Saint Patrick was really driving out of Ireland when he did his thing.

This evening is also special because we will perform a Wiccaning, or Saining as it is sometimes called. We have been asked by a Wiccan Mom for a dedication of her new born.

Do wear ritual garb. White is appropriate. Bring a token gift for the child and food for the feast afterwards.

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1/30/00

This Saturday we celebrate the Candle Festival of the Maiden Goddess. It's Imbolc. We also plan to Wiccan a child. Relax, that means dedicate. Wear white, bring a token gift for the child, and bring white food for the feast.

It's also the first weekend of the Renaissance Festival in Deerfield. Some of our friends will be there all five weeks.

Did you ever wonder where Virtual Circle, the name of this webpage comes from?

A Circle is our place of gathering, celebration, worship, connecting, and learning. Finding a Circle can be a bit difficult for Solitaries.

Virtual comes from optics and mirrors. The image in a mirror is said to be "virtual" because it move when you move, just like a real image. You can see behind things in it, just like a real image. Unless you can touch the glass of the mirror, you have no way of distinguishing it from a real image.

So for those Solitaries out there, we are a Virtual Circle. May you connect with others within the Craft soon enough, but in the meantime, we are here.

Merry Meet and Blessed Be!

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1/4/00

Y2K passed without disaster. January 6th marked the Dark of the New Moon.

We have been made aware once again of the passage of time and the Turn of the Wheel of the Year.

This Sunday Lisa M and Spelcaster will HP at an Open Ritual at the UU Church of Fort Lauderdale. We will meet at 5 PM to plan a Ritual of New Beginnings and Transition from Crone to Maiden Goddess. At 7 PM, the Ritual will start. Come early and design the Ritual with us. Come later and celebrate with us. Bring your thoughts, tools, creativity, drums and energy...

Have a Merry Millennium

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12/26/99

'Tis the time of year to contemplate one's path:

My learning the Craft is like walking an inwards spiral.

Most people start by reading books. Books are accessible and teachers are not. The difficulty is that to read, one starts by using by the logical side of one's brain. But the Craft is creative and something to experience. Thus there must be a jump to later see it all through the intuitive side of my head.

The walk is not steady. Sometimes I get distracted and do nothing for a while. Perhaps I am digesting what I have already done.

Once I begin the walk, teachers can come from anywhere. I may find myself listening to someone old or young, present or by recording, who delivers my next lesson.

I begin grasping the interconnectedness of the universe. All my life experiences become part of my learning: birth religion, toastmasters, my work world, visiting clergy, perhaps even a parent.

Who is more witch than I? Who has been doing this longer? Who can draw a crowd? All this is vanity.

Money spells? Love spells? Lightening bolts from the sky? Turning the well-deserving into toads? Phooey! A witch's greatest power is observation. The magick I work is within myself, and all the world changes.

Have a blessed Gregorian New Year

Our next Open Ritual in Fort Lauderdale will be January 9. We will celebrate New Beginnings and Transition from Crone to Maiden Goddess. Bring your thoughts, tools, drums and energy.

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12/13/99

Among the many things Spelcastor does is write two pen pals in Florida prisons. One is male and one is female. Yes, they are in different prisons.

Dear Greg:

It was nice of those Christian Fundamentalists to provide you with a day of entertainment. Jock stars, cars, music and such must be a welcome change to your routine.

The Christians seem to have far more interest in prison ministry than Pagans. Maybe it's their numbers. Maybe it's their philosophy.

It was clever of that fellow to ask to listen to you. I would hope his interest was real. If the plan was to bring you to Jesus tied over the right front fender of his car, like a deer, he has missed something in his Christian scriptures. His Jesus acts far more Pagan than Fundamentalist.

The Christian Jesus invested far more time fighting Pharisees than devils. Observe that the demons recognized who He was and obeyed Him. The Pharisees did neither. Perhaps the crowd at the crucifixion was the same crowd as at Palm Sunday. Perhaps Jesus was the first victim of persecution by "Christians."

But Christendom is a big pond. There really are some good people within that club. Perhaps such good people will look more like Pagans to you.

So find yourself one good Christian. It will make you a better Witch.

Bright blessings, Spelcastor ***************************************************************
12/8/99

Bring Blessings and on line and do note our new web address:

First Degree Initiation of a Solitary. Well, why not?

We do dedications for those among us who want to begin their year and a day of study and practice. It's a "bon voyage" party and Circle, in which we wish them well and give symbolic gifts. These events have been public and instructional.

The First Degree Dedication was "invitation only." We wished to honor our friend who had been studying for at least a year and a day. This was no implied certification. No plastic ID card was issued.

We gathered on the beach at dusk as the full moon was rising.

She picked her new name and the quarter calls to her own pantheon of spirits.

We asked her some questions. By now, we expected her to know something of

There was no knife and solemn vows, but a reminder that with wisdom comes responsibility, with trust there come confidences, and that outing others is not good.

We wrapped her in a blanket and taunted her that she would never change, that she would always be the way she used to be.

She broke free! We presented her to the four quarters as Priestess, Witch, and Hidden Child of the Goddess.

So how does one do Second Degree as a Solitary? Don't know yet, but it is probably very private and only among close friends.

Join us for an open Yule Ritual Saturday, December 18th.

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11/20/99

The November issue of Ms Magazine is leading with the theme:

"Charmed, I'm Sure. In Praise of Ritual. Woman's Wisdom, Sacred Spaces, & Everyday Magic."

There is a Goddess figurine displayed on the cover.

The Editorial is entitled, "I Feel Witchy."

Their feature article, "Ritual, Bringing Home the Light." They talked about personal altars and family traditions. I was especially attracted to the spin. they drew heavily from Jewish traditions. There was not mention of Celtic or Druid. They were aiming at a world that many of their readers know. The thought is, "There is nothing strange here. You grew up with this."

I look for different ways to describe the Craft in the words of the people I am talking to. Instead of historical or Christian analogies, why not Jewish? To attack Judaism is not a correct thing.

Ms. is rather political in their outlook. Public relations and education are my personal focus of late. Have you hugged a Muggle today? ***************************************************************
11/16/99

The Florida Pagan Gathering in St. Pete, Fl was wonderful.

Phyllis Curott shared stories of her travels on her international speaking tour and something of oral traditions. This Lady knows how to do media.

Amber K and Azreal shared thoughts and fun ideas on ritual.

Raven Grimassi told us of Strega Traditions and historical documentation of Wicca in the Middle Ages and before Gardner.

On my way home, I stopped at Cracker Barrel for the Cardiologist's Special. I had five waitresses and a manager tending to me. Then I noticed I still had on my Gaia Tee Shirt with a big drawing of the Goddess and the word "Staff" on it.

You'd think these people never saw a witch before? ***************************************************************
10/17/99

October 24th marks the beginning of "Witch Awareness Week."

For seven days our Fundamentalist Friends stop bashing gays and turn their attention to us. We shall hear bemoanings of cults, devil worship, the degeneracy of our young, and the evils of these secular times.

The good side is that this week the press takes an interest in Witches. It is not like we are around just one week each year, any more than lovers can be found only around St. Valentine's Day. But we can to a little public relations and, those of us who are out, can be interviewed.

Folks get curious, and what they want to know most of all is, "What kind of people are we?" Yes, we hold jobs, raise children, educate them in our faith and shop at Publix. So, if you are out, go get yourself interviewed. Your photo adds to your credibility, and you make the world a safer place for the rest of us who will be out later.

And yes, it's no secret that the Witches Ball will be Saturday, October 30th at the Florida UU Church. ***************************************************************
10/4/99

Secrecy in the Craft was the topic in last week's Study Group.

We compared how the military does secrecy in contrast to witches.

Some military secrets are a delaying action, important only until an event has past. Other secrets are meant to hide a happening for all time.

The biggest secret about a secret is that a secret exists. Ask any KGB Agent. Once they discover that the secret exists, the rest is just a matter of time. The military does three degrees of secrets (Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret). Anything that might be beyond that does not exist.

The military lays out symbolic reminders about what is secret. They create "sacred space" in their meeting room vaults.

Outing people with secrets is a serious no-no that results in shunning and other punishments.

What does all this have to do with the Craft? Can't say! It's secret!

And yes, it's no secret that the Witches Ball will be Saturday, October 30th at the Florida UU Church.

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9/22/99 Our Pagan Pride Day was a big success. So was the one in Miami.

I met a solitary who is in the military. It seems must military wiccans stay secret. That rules out public rituals and the popular tools. Tools are really just that, tools. Later along our paths, we learn to let go and work magic without them. Our military friends get a head start here.

On ship, confinement is even tighter. One cannot be lighting candles and incense among the torpedoes and bombs. But there is the helo pad (where the helicopters land). It's a 9-foot circle with an X in the center: the wind in your face and the sea all around you.

Here comes the rain again: I still plan to be at the UU Church at 7:30 PM tonight for the Wicca 101 class.

Last call for lower priced early registration for the Florida Pagan Gathering Nov 11-14 in St. Petersburg.

This Thursday, our Study Group plans a field trip to Drumming at the Borders at University and Atlantic in Coral Springs.

And yes, the Witches Ball will be Saturday, October 30th at the Florida UU Church.

Stay dry.

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9/19/99

The Study Group got together and laid out our 7-circuit labyrinth. WE decided that a First Degree Priestess of the Labyrinth ought to be able to lay out such and Labyrinth, and that a Second Degree Priestess ought to be able to move it when it's, OOPS, three feet off from where it should be.

Then we did a dedication. We processed into the Center and spoke a blessing:

Enter into Labyrinth Time,
Ponder on your life's design,
Spire down into the core,
Determine what your life is for.
Stand here now in sacred space,
Goddess Spirit in this place.
Spiral out back to your world,
Be not seduced by madning swirl.
Waxing Moon in the sky bright,
New beginnings start tonight.

We circled our Labyrinth several times consecrating it as sacred space with water, salt, smudge and incense.

We tried some quarter calls, but they still need work. They might best invite energies from ancient labyrinths in the Middle East, an Incan or Mayan labyrinth to the South, the Grace Cathedral labyrinth in San Francisco to the West, and some Celtic Labyrinth to the North in Britain.

Such calls are different from those used prior to the workings of magic in the immediate hour. We must remember to thank and dismiss these energies Sunday night following our Pagan Pride Day and Ritual.

Speaking of magick, the monster did turn back to sea, at least from Fort Lauderdale. The beginning of our Wicca 101 class will be delayed until next Tuesday, 7:30 PM.

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8/29/99

Have you been enjoying all the noise from the religious right complaining about the Army Chaplain's allowing pagan worship. Guess what's the name of the Army Chaplains newspaper? The Pentagram! Go visit: http://www.dcmilitary.com/army/pentagram/

Some people have too much time on their hands, For 677 verses to "Give Me That Old Time Religion" visit: http://www.lehigh.edu/~inwht/Whispering-Trees/song:otr.html

There are only a few more days until September 14th when our Wicca101 class begins, visit http://uucfl.org/cuups/w101.htm for the enrollment.

And then last Thursday, our Study Group had planned to watch "The Sorceress," a film about how a Pagan deity became a Christian Saint and a conflict between a wise woman and a monk in medieval times. We sent Mirthra off to Blockbusters.

The film Mirthra came back with was titled "The Sorceress," but it starred Julie Strain, a High Priestess of the Penthouse Tradition. Seeing Lady Julie standing in candle light with athame raised and scanty ritual garb, we were all impressed with the blending of ancient fable and modern science. Much laughter and audience frivolity followed. I hope we had no first time visitors.

When pressed to say something positive, Mirthra observed that the film probably had a higher budget than the "Blaire Witch Project."

It is not easy to be serious all the time.

Next week we do some planning for the second Annual South Florida Witches Ball http://uucfl.org/cuups/wball.htm

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8/20/99

Spelcastor is back!

This Full Moon we know of only our Study Group doing anything. September should offer more with Pagan Pride Day, an Open Ritual, and a Drumming Concert.

I was thinking about Fuzzy Bunny Wicca

Some say we can curl up with the Maiden Goddess, feel connected and loved, scribble a few notes on scraps of paper and burn them, call ourselves witches, and say what we are doing is a religion. All Hail Barbee!

But there is more to life than this. Look at our friends down the road within Christendom, obsessing more on their Christian Devil than with their bland Jesus. Their devil is drawn as such a worthy opponent.

Our lives are not all peaches and cream. There is change, destruction and rebirth. Enter the Crone aspect and the Dark Goddesses: Hecate, Kali, or Hel. These are no ladies to trifle with. But are they bad? No; however, they can play a little rough.

But what are our fears but a circle cast around our comfort zone and keeping us away from our personal treasures.

Consider the learned doctors like Freud, Carl Jung, and whatever might lurk in the collective unconscious.

For a full deck, we can embrace all three aspects of the Goddess. Maybe, we just won't do it every day.

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8/11/99

The Goddess2000 Picnic at Synder Park was a big success. WiccaBear is a fine host. Looking for formal religious training, Wicca Bear went thru a Baptist seminary and received high grades. He prefaced much of what the heard with, "According to Baptist Theology..." He did not volunteer his own theology and they respected him and offered him a church upon graduation. WiccaBear declined.

Get up at 6:03 AM for the last Eclipse of the Sun of this Millennium.

August 11, Wednesday, 7:30 PM: Circle of Divine Light invites all to attend an open meditation/ritual at Dania Beach (the south end) See below.

August 12, Thursday, 7:30 PM: Dr. Michael Carr will present on the Miami Circle by at the Fern Forest Nature Center. See below.

Have a magickal week!

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8/7/99

Don't forget tomorrow, Sunday, a Goddess2000 networking session at Snyder Park in Fort Lauderdale: Pavilions #17 & #18. Bring food & beverage to share.

Yes, there will be a Pagan Pride Celebration in Miami (Key Biscayne) Sept 18th.

Yes, there is a 6 AM EDT Solar Eclipse August 11th.

Yes, Spelcastor is presenting a "Pagan Path" service at 11 AM at the UU Church of Fort Lauderdale.

Yes, planning continues for the Second Annual South Florida Witches Ball.

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8/3/99

This weekend our Open Circle Celebrated Lammas Our Ritual is at http://uucfl.org/cuups/lammas.htm

Our Study Group recently performed a native American Naming Ceremony http://uucfl.org/cuups/dawen.htm

We recently did an evening of "Show Us Your God". Sometimes, a god alone is scary to pagans, without an overshadowing goddess nearby.

I tend to take the names of deities so seriously, unlike the ancients. I found one site about Cernunnos, http://www.lugodoc.demon.co.uk/cernunos.htm

We only know his name because it is carved on a single plaque, made by sailors from the Gallic Parisii tribe (from whom Paris got its name) in the first century AD, by which time Gaul (modern France) had become a Roman province.

Cornu in modern French means "horned, because modern French has grown from the Latin language imposed upon them by the Romans. The Latin for horn is also cornu. The Romans had a habit of changing local names to fit the Roman pattern: most Roman names end in us. So Cernunnos is a Roman name meaning Horned One. It was probably the new Romanised name given by the Gauls to all their very old horned gods, in which case its use may have been widespread through out Gaul after it became a Roman province.

The images of him are unusually consistent. His main attribute are his horns, those of a stag. He is usually portrayed as a mature man with long hair and a beard. He wears a torc: this was an ornate neck-ring worn by the Celts to denote nobility. He often carries other torcs in his hands or hanging from his horns.

He is usually portrayed seated and cross-legged, in the meditative or shamanic position. He also became the model for the Christian Devil.

Cernunnos is nearly always portrayed with animals, in particular the stag. He is also frequently associated with a unique beast that seems to belong only to him: a serpent with the horns of a ram. Less often he is associated with other beasts, including bulls, dogs and rats.

Was Cernunnos the Celtic god of initiation ?

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7/23/99

Time magazine recently ran an article on Witches in the Army: See the link at http://cgi.pathfinder.com/time/magazine/articles/0,3266,27389,00.html

The media was out looking for witches to interview.

I recently met a buddy of mine who who served several years as an army chaplain. So I asked him, "Did you ever meet any witches?" And he said, " Yes."

He said they were among the junior ranks. The military is aware of hierarchy. Perhaps the more senior witches do not come out. A promotion to general requires approval by Congress.

He said that they would ask to do something, and then not come back. He figures they were testing him. The military respects follow through.

He suggests that the Wiccans he met just wanted to be put in charge of something. He would advise that they be put in charge of the tool shed. They would have something to do and the tools would be in excellent order.

My experience with folks who meet a Wiccan for the first time, is that they want to know what sort of person you are. It's not the theology, ritual, history, or spells. It's about you, the person.

Think about that if you are considering doing some public relations. And how are your tools?

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7/14/99

We have settled on Sunday August 1st for our Lammas Open Circle

I have added a "Best of Spelcastor" page at http://uucfl.org/cuups/archive.htm

Someone showed me a neat clipart site at http://www.clipartcastle.com/ and stories at http://www.sistersofavalon.org/welcome.html

Witches are in the news! Did you catch the July 5th Time magazine, P.59? Witches are getting interviewed on network TV.

It's really a PR campaign for us. The key to giving an effective interview is to look respectable, not weird. To explain that Wicca is a Goddess (and God) religion. That we have an ethical system, and live "normal" lives. We trace our roots to the ancient Goddess Traditions and we are very concerned about healing the Earth. We hold jobs, raise children, support our community, and shop at Publix because they have so many fresh herbs. Got it?

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6/15/99

Large Rituals

CUUPS Open Rituals can attract big numbers, and 100 to 250 people take special planning. I was comparing notes on this subject with Lady Bridget.

Since Open Rituals attract some who are merely curious, a little instruction in the opening might be helpful:

HP: Be it known that the Esbat is about to begin. Let none be here but of their own free will.

HPS: Be it known that the practice of our religion involves secrets. Share with no one on the outside the names of those gathered in this Circle tonight.

When placing your high altar in the East, put it half way between the center and the East Quarter. That way, the HP/HPS will be closest to the people to whom they will have their backs turned. These people will be better able to hear.

We like a fire at the center of our Circle. Select a Fire Tender to stay on the south side of the fire so no one else have to worry about it. Put the drummers on the North side of the fire. They can stay connected with the Ritual, and when they are together, it is easier for them to keep time.

It is important that a large ritual not drag. When the HPS is a third of the way around casting the circle, perhaps another dignitary might start around with the water and salt. Then another with the fire and air. All the while, leave the HP at the high alter to be a focus for those in the circle who can see no one else.

To further speed things up, select three people to tend to each quarter. Instead of providing a blessing as folksie enter the circle, let the quarter tenders do it. They can also ask folks to take one step back if the circle must be expanded.

Have one of the tenders makes the quarter call across the circle. She or he moves and calls from the opposite side, so that everyone can more easily hear.

For cakes and ale, the tenders take these from the high altar and bring them to their quarter, then collect the paper cups.

If the participants are to come forward to receive something or place something, use waist-high tables so no one has to slow down and stoop. Have the tenders direct everyone to move deosil so that no one collides.

At large rituals, sometimes the participants feel disconnected from what is going on at the high altar. Have the tenders stand inside the circle to help with information flow or boredom.

If there is to be a spiral dance, consider four separate spirals, led by the tenders. One tender at the head of each circle, and other at the tail.

When the quarters are tended, the ritual moves quickly and the HPS/HP are free to focus on the seasonal enactment or whatever workings are called for.

Samhain is coming. What are your thoughts on large rituals?

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6/10/99

Happy Litha, or Mid-Summers!

I was at the beach off Atlantic Avenue in Pompano at 6 AM to meet with Lady Bridget and her friends.

Boundaries are a special place for magick, and there were so many all around us.

The sun was about to rise, the tide was going out, about to turn. Here was the longest day of the year, the boundary between the the Oak and Holly Kings, the strengthening and weakening of the Sun. It was dawn, the boundary between dark and light. Wading into the water, we stood touching the Earth, half in the Water, half in Air and facing the Fire of the rising Sun. Truly a place for magick.

What might one do at such times? Sing songs to the Sun, either Celtic or Beatles. Think of new beginnings. Make a large wreath of flowers and (bio-degradable) lace, consecrate it, and all carry it into the sea together.

For some, this is a time to discard old ceremonial water and collect new from the sea. Water and Salt are so good for cleansings, rituals, or a little dab in a bath.

A Kentucky Witch told me that some of the country people fill a pail at the tap and place it in front of their doors. They say a witch's spell cannot pass over water, and they do this for protection. But Sea Water knows no bounds, and she uses this in her spells, so, Gotcha Bubba! Ribbit!

To check your moon phase, visit: http://www.snakeandsnake.com/moontime.htm

To check your tides, visit: http://tbone.biol.sc.edu/tide/sitesel.html

We will be doing a couple more Litha Rituals: one at our Thursday Night Study Group, and another next Sunday at 8 PM. Don't forget the snacks.

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4/30/99

HEAR YEE! HEAR YEE! Saturday, May 1st, from Noon till Dark, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Lauderdale and the MoonPath Chapter of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans shall be hosting a Beltaine Festival. There shall be a Bard's Story Telling Circle, a May Pole, a Queen of the May, a Picnic, a Labyrinth, a Hand Fasting (Wedding), a Beltaine Pagan Ritual, and more.

Betaine is an ancient bawdy celebration of the beginning of summer. It was a major holiday in Northern Europe in olden times until the Christian Easter claimed many of it's trappings.

The UU Church is located at 3970 NW 21 Ave., three blocks north of the Main Post Office on Oakland Park Boulevard. For more details, phone the church office at (954) 484-6734 or email Spelcastor@aol.com. Yes, costumes are an exquisite idea!

This is a "no cost of admission - bring your own everything" event. There is a Walgreens just two blocks down 21 Avenue, in case you forget your mustard plus both Publix and Winn-Dixie nearby. Brining something to sit upon is a good idea too.

So come all yee knights and country folk, lords and ladies, fairies and gnomes, monks and wizards. We shall have a wee gathering to celebrate the Merry Month of May.

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4/17/99

This Monday marks the beginning of "Be Nice To Gardnerians Week." For the next seven days, knock off all of those, "Why did the Gardnerian cross the road" and "How many does it take to change a light bulb" jokes.

We solitaries owe a lot to "Old Gerald." He published "High Magic's Aid" back before Britain's anti-witch laws were repealed in 1954. He could reveal more within a novel. So maybe you don't believe that he was initiated into the New Forest Coven that claimed to have survived the Inquisition.

In spite of all the secrecy, perhaps a few people broke some oaths to publish all those books we see by the Farrars, Buckland, and Valiente. How complete are these books? No one will say, but the rest of us use them as models.

OK, so it's irritating when your Gardnerian buddies boast that they are into something more wonderful than whatever it is that you are doing. But they are organized. They are the "Catholics" of the Witches. And they do talk among themselves, if not to the rest of us. You can't run around passing yourself off as a Gardnarian Second Degree Something-or-Other and get away with it for long.

Maybe they do take their clothes off in private ritual. The idea of standing naked before one's deity is not a concept found only within the Craft. After all, Old Gerald really was a Naturalist.

The Gardnerian Tradition is said to be more like an extended family, not that I know for sure. There is a neat article online at http://www.knotwork.com/~albion/gardnerian.html about the Gardnerian community, but I can't vouch for its accuracy.

So starting Monday, knock off those jokes, and be grateful. For the next seven days, be nice to a Gardnerian.

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3/16/99

Here comes St. Patrick's Day, for all of you with Celtic leanings. It's a good excuse to drink green beer and we all have heard the legend that Patrick drove the snakes our of Ireland.

We also recall that the snake is a goddess symbol. Perhaps Patrick was first honoired for beating up on the pagans.

Here comes Beltaine this May. It's a major celebration and I am excited. However, it's Samhain when "Witch Awareness" is high. It's like Valentine's Day when everyone wants to be a lover, or St. Patrick's Day when everyone wants to be Irish.

Yes, we are around the rest of the year, just like Irish and lovers. Some of us are all three.

More to follow on Beltaine.

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3/11/99

Our Fort Lauderdale Study Group continues to attract 15 people or so. The ending of the film "The Wicker Man" did not sit well with everyone, as would be expected. Next week: Astrology and the Stars. Bring your star chart.

We are planning a Beltaine Festival for Saturday May 1st at the UU Church of Fort Lauderdale. This will be an all day affair including picnic, Bard's Story Circle, a Queen of the May, Games, a May Pole, a Hand Fasting, and an Open Ritual. We are open to lots of ideas and participation. Let's tell our RenFest friends. We will invite other UU families. How about some card readers and jugglers? For once a clown suite will be in fashion! Come as Punch.

More to follow on this one.

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3/4/99

At our last Study Group, we danced and made ritual. Next Thursday, we watch and discuss the movie "The Wicker Man."

Correction! Our next Open Circle is this SUNDAY evening at 7:30PM. At this Ritual, we will invoke the Dark Goddess, explore the Underworld and hear of the Crone Hecate.

So you have read your stack of books and shared some ritual with fellow solitaries. Now what? How about studying the Ancient Goddesses and Gods and getting to know something about them. It makes an invocation more personal. These deities come from different Pantheons: Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Mayan, and such. It's handy to keep your decks straight and remember who hangs out with whom.

As you get to know your Goddesses and Gods and come to know those to which you feel connection, you start to learn of altered states. It might be song, dance, chanting, drums, meditation, breathing, or nature. Then, you move beyond Wicca 101.

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2/25/99

At our last Study Group, we shared ritual costumes and then stepped outside for a Ritual. Next time, Don will show us some things about Runes and Sticks.

What is Spelcastor reading lately? A Book of Shadows by Phyllis Currott. I met this lady at Iron Oak's Samhain festival and did not warm up to her immediately. She is a New York lawyer. I avoided buying this hard cover book, but it came to me anyway. It is published by the respected Bantam Doubleday Dell and not folks like Llewellyn. She is aiming at women in the mainstream of America. Yes, she has done the High Priestess thing and all that, but this is not a typical Wicca 101. This book is not a linear description but a narrative of skillfully crafted words that tells her story of awakening.

I met Margot Adler and heard her story of how she came to write her book. Many people have come to the Old Ways by reading Margot. Phyllis is leading a workshop with Margot in Connecticut this quarter. Now here comes another book that could be turned into a movie. Now that I have read it, I think this is a book to watch.

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2/14/99

Our Thursday Evening Study Group continues. Last week we explored Rituals of Love. We swapped stories and talked about ethics. Then we moved on to the Tarot cards and explored the future romance for a couple of us.

This Thursday, we do Ritual Garb and Ritual. Wear your favorite outfit and share its meanings. Then we will pick a purpose, plan a ritual, and do it.

A Study Group is a less formal gathering than a coven. Folks get to learn and share and decide about alternatives to the solitary path.

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2/6/99

Secrecy in the Craft:

In times of persecution, a connection to the Craft was a life and death matter. Still today outside of liberal circles, a known connection to witchcraft can bring alot of trouble. And then there are situations like divorce or job competitions, where some look to use prejudice against another.

But there is more to secrecy. Think about sex. What I do with my partner is probably little different from what most other people do. Still, it is personal, so I do not share it.

Exploring a new spiritual path is like nursing a freshly budding plant. It does best when protected from the harshness around it.

And then, secrets are fun: "I know something you don't know, and I'm not going to tell you!"

And then too in Circles, some people go East where others go North. As long as these rituals are secret, we have less to squabble about.

The other hand, there is the public relations angle. The more people realize that witches are good people and everywhere, the more difficult persecution becomes.

I recently received an email with a zipped attachment of text and graphics. I was told, "Thank you for all you do to aid those entering the Craft. We know you, but you do not know that you know us. Please post these files on your website. Thanks and blessed be."

What else could I do? Take a look at http://uucfl.org/cuups/bmw.htm

And don't forget the Renaissance Festival. Here is an opportunity for us to wear our favorite outfits in public.

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12/23/98

A Wiccan Thought

At this time of year when many religions are celebrating High Holy Days, I think about the religious dual citizens.

I have met at least one Jewish Witch. She keeps her Jewish traditions and reverences the Goddess at the Sabbats.

A Christian Witch is more difficult to spot. What with the Nicene Creed and all, how does one justify being in both camps?

A philosophy professor once labeled me as a pantheist. A pantheist is someone who sees deity everywhere: in a religious celebration, a flower, the sea, a moonrise, or a litter of puppies being born.

I recall that when the South Sea Islanders met the Christian missionaries, these missionaries were delighted that the Islanders accepted their god. Little did they realize that the Islanders already had many gods and to accept their visitor's was good hospitality.

So what of those who celebrate a Mass in the Morning and the Moon at Night? Isn't that how the common folk did religion during the Middle Ages?

To live a logically connected life is a harsh demand. Many of us pass through differing worlds of work, social, and family. To imagine that the person standing next to us, at either communion rail or ritual, is thinking what we are thinking, is perhaps a bit foolish?

A Witchy Lady I know lives the Wiccan Reed and goes among the Catholics to do her charity work. She sees the Catholics as most active in charity, and they see her as a good Christian. And what does this Witchy Lady tell me about all this? "Everyone needs a religion that they can talk about."

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11/20/98

A Thanksgiving Thought

Here I sit on Thanksgiving Day, satiated with turkey and trimmings. I think about the traditions that have brought me to this moment.

So the story goes, the Pilgrims fled religious persecution in Europe, came to the New World, and celebrated their first harvest with the Native Americans.

But think about those times. It was the early 1600's. Europe was torn by religious turmoil. The American Colonies were opening up as a safe haven. Pennsylvania was most welcoming to those fleeing persecution. So was the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Not just Protestant sects were in danger. Across the stormy Atlantic came refuges of many persuasions. These were the Burning Times. The witch trials continued. Thus, Wiccan folk too brought their traditions to the welcoming colonies of the New World.

The American holiday of Thanksgiving was invented following the War Between the States. It was intended to be an act of healing. In both North and South, families had been torn. Loved ones had been lost.

130 years later, I see us gathering family together. Then we reach out to friends who need a place to go. We gather people we know from wherever, maybe even a parish priest.

And so today we celebrate the Feast of the Harvest. Everyone brings something to share. Upon the table, there is plenty. The priest comments to a Wiccan Lady how sensitive she is to this holiday. She confides that the harvest has always held strong meaning within her family.

And we are all together. And we share this turning of the Wheel of the Year.

Bright Blessings upon you all for this Harvest Celebration.

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10/7/98

From:Arawn Machia

The Dragon Whispers Coven is hosting the Shadowfest Ritual, Banquet & Masqued Ball in the Deerfield Beach Area.  Those responding to arawn@freenet.tlh.fl.us will receive the name of the location and additional info.  Ticket deadline is a week from this Monday (The caterers need a week notice to
order food).

  			Shadowfest Ball
                        October 17, 1998 (Saturday)
                        Cost:  $35.00
  			Choice of:
  				Prime Rib
  				Filet of Salmon
  				Vegetarian Lasagne

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10/3/98

We are now down to the last few days to register at the lower rates for FPG Samhain in St. Pete, November 12-15

Silver Ravenwolf will be at the Samhain Florida Pagan Gathering in St. Petersburg! This site for this festival is a beautiful wooded area in the heart of south St. Pete. It is close to stores of all sorts, but once you are in the woods, it's as if the city was many miles away. There are cabins, warm water showers and flush toilets. There will be many workshops including Silver Ravenwolf's, opening, main and closing rituals, bardic circles and drumming circles and live music!

Silver Ravenwolf is a top-selling Pagan author making her premier appearance at the Florida Pagan Gathering! Ravenwolf will teaching workshops, giving Tarot readings as well as mastercrafting the main ritual. Have her do a reading for you. Join her dynamic workshops and raise the spirit!

Ravenwolf has been a major leader of the Pagan movement and helped shape it over the years. She created the Wiccan Pagan Press Alliance of which she is the founder and director. She has been long known for her steadfast fight for freedom of religion and anti-discrimination. As one of the most popular authors, she as authored seven books. These are:

Come to the Florida Pagan Gathering and Feel the Magic!

Also, at the festival:

    Before Oct 5     Oct 5 - Nov 6     Door
$60_________ $70_________ $80________ Full four days
$30_________ $40_________ $40________ Full day Friday
$30_________ $40_________ $40________ Full day Saturday
$10_________ $10_________ $10________ Kids 6-18 with parent/guardian
$10_________ $10_________ $10________ Vending Surcharge
$15_________ $15_________ $15________ Cabin Surcharge
$50_________ $50_________ $50________ Meal Plan (8 meals)
      _________       __________     ________ Total, Check, MO, Credit
Card:

Credit card number: __________________________   Expires: ________
Visa?  M/C?  Disc?

I would like to have a tarot reading by Silver Ravenwolf:  ________
(Check for yes, pay after reading, $30/15 min.)

Then mail to:

Church of Iron Oak
PO Box 060672
Palm Bay, FL  32906-0672
Attn:  Gathering

Email:  FPG@ironoak.org
Web:         http://www.ironoak.org/

Notes:
We will mail out a confirmation booklet with a map to the area and other
info about three weeks before the festival if not sooner.
We're sorry!  Site rules demand:
-  Absolutely No Pets
-  Absolutely No Unaccompanied Minors
-  Also, we have no vegan food and we cannot give refunds or credit after
registration closes on Sunday, November 15th

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9/26/98

Two days ago I was joking with Raven about looking up a Turning Spell for the approaching hurricane Georges. It seems others know far more than I about this.

So I holed up with seven videos. One of them was "Bell, Book, and Candle," a 1950's movie staring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak giving a playful look at witches in New Your City. It was very fifties and used such politically incorrect concepts as "warlock."

So the storm passed and the theaters reopened. I was hoping to see Practical Magic staring Sandra Bulluck. This one sounds like a book from Llewellyn Press. I couldn't find it, so I settled for fantasy and saw the new "Avengers" movie.

It's not for everyone, but I am a fan of John Steed and Mrs. Emma Peel in that TV series from the early 60s. So I watched this new release and was amused by the contrast of how "90s" it was.

And so I thought about how and religion collects from its environment, like a snowball rolling down a hill. Observe all that Christianity has collected.

I really did enjoy "Bell, Book and Candle" when I first saw it. I wanted to find those special and elusive people in the story in New York City.

Yes, it's nice to be accurate in our Wiccan Ways, as the values of our own era spin their web around us.

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9/18/98

Once upon a time in ancient times, there were deities associated with particular places such as springs, mountains or meadows. Other places might have deities that were similar but with different names. In old times deities were recognized by their behavior and not by what they were called.

When the Romans entered upon the scene, they associated the magick of a location with the closest matching deity of their own. Thus some Roman deities had many place names in conquered lands.

We see this tradition carried on in the naming of Christian churches, where many have the same name but for their location, Like Saint James-in-the-Hills or Saint Swizzen-in-the-Swamp.

With the "advance" to monotheism, all deities of all behaviors came to have the same name, and a male name at that. No wonder there is such confusion and hostility between the patriarchal religions. The Ancient Ones would say, "No one knows who they are talking to."

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8/23/98

When new people join an Open Circle, it is important to be aware of Circle Etiquette. Wicca has always been a religion of poetry, not theology. However, here is a tongue-in-cheek guide of common sense and courtesy "In ritual, we 'suspend disbelief' as in a play. Casting the Circle is an enacted meditation."

Arrive on time. Once the Circle cast, crashing into it produces a distracting array of sparks and blue light.

Bring your own cup. This simplifies the sharing of the Cakes and Ale.

An athame (ceremonial knife) is optional. You can use your two first fingers to direct your personal power. The resulting little burn marks will quickly fade.

A Circle is a sacred religious event. Everyone participates. This is not a spectator sport.

Dress in either robes or comfortable clothes. Your body should be clean and your mind clear. Barefeet bring you closer to the Earth. Save skyclad for private occasions. A clown costume is hardly ever appropriate.

A Circle is a time of reverence, not a social hour.

Enter the Circle and proceed clockwise as far as possible. When you stop, ground and center yourself. Lower your head and focus your thoughts inward for a while.

Turn off your beeper and cell phone.

Do not take pictures.

Do not touch other people's alter tools or open their books without first asking permission.

You are in the Goddess' and the God's presence in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust. Enjoy, be reverent and joyful, and be full of hope and wonder at all there can be.

The best protection, when learning, is a sense of humor.

You will likely be told who to watch and how to make yourself comfortable.

There is usually open flame at a Circle. Be aware lest you set yourself on fire. If someone else sets themselves on fire, it is not part of the ritual. Put them out.

A chant may be used to raise power. When the chanting is done, everyone touches the ground to drain off excess energy.

During Cakes and Ale, do not eat everything you are given. There might be a libation dish into which you are expected to return a small offering back to the Goddess and the God.

Stay till the Circle is opened. Do not crash out early.

Afterwards, ask questions about the meaning of what you saw and did.

Later, do not tell outsiders who else was at the Circle. Do not greet publicly someone you see again with reference to the Circle gathering. Respect their privacy. Persecution really does happen.

"Magick is the projection of natural energies to produce needed effects." --Scott Cunningham

"The Circle is cast, and we are between the worlds, beyond the bounds of time, where night and day, birth and death, joy and sorrow, meet as one." --Starhark

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7/25/98

Off I go to the Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute, a conference of 1000 UUs in Radford Virginia. For the second time, I will offer with a lady-friend, Wicca 101. Last year, we attracted our maximum registration of 20 plus more on a waiting list.

For those of you who use America On Line, there is now an entry for Wicca in their Digital City. The path through the AOL maze is as follows: Start at the opening page called Channels and look in the lower right corner for Local. Click local on the map that comes up and click South Florida. In the People & Communication paragraph, click Religion. Under that, click Faith and Values. Next you see Visit Houses of Worship. Under denomination enter Wicca. Up comes a link to the MoonPath Chapter of CUUPS. We are everywhere.

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7/12/98

We had a fine Circle last Sunday evening. The Goddess spoke to our High Priest of the Day telling him to be more spontaneous by setting his notes on fire.

Our Witches Ball is a GO for October 31st. For $7 at the door, we will provide music and munchies. We are looking for help with decorations, ticket taking, Circle planning, protocol advice, general helpers, and underwriting. Yes, we are a 501(c)(3). Visit http://uucfl.org/cuups/wball.htm.

Our idea is to bring people together who are looking for a place to go for Samhain. There are Witches Balls in Ohio, Boston, and Roundtree, Texas. Now it is our turn. We are looking to have some fun and then do a New Year's Open Circle.

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5/12/98

The Grand Sabbat of Beltaine also known as May Day, Rood Day, Rudemas and Walpurgisnacht, begins at moonrise on May Day Eve. It is traditionally celebrated on a hilltop where huge bonfires are lit, symbolizing the life-giving Sun God. These were meant to light the way for Summer and to increase fertility in crops, animals and homes. If celebrated indoors, thirteen dark green candles may be lit to symbolize the Beltaine fire.

The Sabbat is derived from an ancient Druid Fire Festival celebrating the union of the Goddess and Her consort, the Horned God. Beltaine is one of the few Pagan festivals that has survived to modern day in much of its original form. It is based in part on Floralia, a Roman nature festival dedicated to Flora, the goddess of flowers.

On Beltaine day, the sun is in the astrological sign of Taurus the Bull, which marks the "death" of Winter, and the "birth" of Spring. This is the start of the planting season.

After a ritual honoring the God and Goddess, there is often a celebration of Nature which consists of feasts, old Pagan games, poetry readings and the singing of sacred songs. Offerings may be made to elemental spirits (this is a good time to see faeries, if you believe) and a dance is performed around a decorated Maypole. The Maypole, a phallic fertility symbol, is often intertwined with red and white ribbons to symbolize the union of male and female and to celebrate the great fertilizing power of the Horned God. At dawn, morning dew is gathered to be used in potions for good luck and to increase beauty.

And here is the time of spring, rebirth, fertility, and an excellent time for a hand fasting.

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5/6/98

When in the Springtime of the Year,
When the Trees are Crowned with Leaves,
When the Ash and Oak, and the Birch and Yew,
Are Dressed in Ribbons Fair.

When Owl Call the Breathless Moon,
In the Blue Veil of the Night,
The Shadows of the Trees Appear,
Amidst the Lantern Light.

The words are from Loreena McKennitt's hit song, the "Mummer's Dance."

And here comes Beltaine, six months around the Wheel of the Year from Samhain (Halloween). At Moonpath CUUPS, we celebrate it close to the traditional time and when it is convenient.

And here is the time of spring, rebirth, fertility, and an excellent time for a hand fasting.

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4/12/98

Here it is April and it is high time we celebrated another Open Circle. Next Sunday evening looks like it will work for us.

Recently, I listened to a program by RJ Stewart. He spoke about how we see the old Celtic deities through the patriarchal eyes of the 18th and 19th centuries. We would do better to recognize these ancients by what they do than by what they are called. They have many different names in different places.

Think too of the four elements (air, fire, water and earth) the four directions, above, about, and especially below. I was watching a public TV program showing the landscape of Ireland. I now see the lakes as the gateway to the underworld.

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2/14/98

We don't do covens. We look to hold one open circle each month and from that people meet and perhaps decide to do their own thing.

Coven membership tends to become rather personal. You would become part of a small group and, by your joining, that group changes. There are demands of time and commitment and confidentiality. For many who do this, it is a big deal.

We at CUUPS have no ongoing covens. We are an entry point and your path takes you wherever it may.

Do drop by the UU Church of Fort Lauderdale and introduce yourself.

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1/30/98

Yes, I like books. I am waiting to see someone write Wicca for Dummies. Topics might be such as "The easy way to draw an invoking pentagram" and "East - what direction is it really?"

For an advanced book on Wicca, I recommend Silver RavenWolf's "To Stir a Magick Cauldron."

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1/19/98

In my rooftop garden, within a Circle cast by broom, water, salt, and blade, I sat and watched the clouds race towards me over the fullness of the moon. Wind whipped at my ring of tikki torches. I could truly believe that I soared between the worlds.

Looking in my Book of Shadows, I found one chant that fit. I repeated it over and over. In that moment, I understood those people who get of reading psalms. I shall have to find more words with meaning. I want more inside my circle than meditation.

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12/26/97

Once I was asked what a witch in the 25th century would be like.

The witch characterization is drawn from a country person of the 1500's. That is where the black pointed hat comes from. And in the city, country people are laughed at.

For a witch of the 25 century, I imagine Bubba Witch, in bib overalls and a baseball cap warn sideways with the National Rifle Association logo. He would not be respected by the city people of that inter-galactic era.

Yet I have met Bubba Witch. His arms are wider than my leg. He does not read a lot of books, but he stays close to the Gardnerian Path. Bubba does not use an athame, or even a sword. Bubba has a gigantic staff with a set of antlers mounted upon it.

I asked him, BW, how he prepared such a magnificent staff., and he confided in me, "After asking the blessing of the Goddess and the permission of the Oak Tree, I cut it with my white-handled chain saw."

More from Bubba Witch later.

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12/6/97

George III was King of England (1760 - 1820). A Lady of the Court caused a stir when she lost her garter on the ballroom floor. To shield her, the King announced that he would make such a garter the badge the highest order of knighthood, and so it is today, the Royal Order of the Garter

Why the embarrassment? Legend has it that this garter revealed the Lady to be a Witch of the Third Degree. Not all witches are poor country folk.

Scott Cunnimgham wrote an introductory booklet called, "The Truth about Witchcraft Today." It sells for $4.99. On the cover is a thirty-something woman in a dark business suit with no conspicuous jewelry. She appears confident, centered, purposeful, and on the go.

In the checkout line at Publix Supermarket, you never know who you might be standing next to.

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11/19/97

Between Samhain and Yule, I think of new beginnings: Self Dedication/Initiation is popular among Solitaries. Each collects symbols and words for this ritual and does it when she or her feels ready. The experience is usually moving, meaningful, and private.

Some covens do three degrees of initiation. After a year and a day of study and practice, a Solitary might see themselves as reaching this first degree. Probably she or he would know the history of their tradition, the holidays they chose to celebrate and the ritual tools they choose to use.

A second degree might have more with being able to lead a Circle. There is a bit of theater to ritual. This is were theater came from.

A third degree might have to do with starting and then spinning off a coven. It's a birthing experience and no small accomplishment to begin something that can continue without you. And if you are out and about founding covens, you might ask why you are calling yourself a Solitary.

And it all takes time. Imagine waking up one morning and announcing to the world that you are now a Jew. What self-respecting Jew would take you seriously?

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10/5/97

A Dedication for us is a celebration of someone's desire to study and grow further in the "Old Religion." We cast a circle, tell stories of other Dedications and Initiations, give them symbolic gifts, and wish them well. Perhaps they choose a new Circle Name for themselves. Perhaps they make some sort of vow or statement.

An initiation traditionally follows a year and a day of study and practice. The person might be expected to understand the sabbats (holidays) and tools that they claim, and know how to lead a circle for major events.

The symbolism in either case is rebirth. Joining a coven is still different, but that is a story other than mine.

So come and wish our dedicant well.


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